First impressions matter, especially for job interviews. If you’re a job seeker, there are many opportunities to make an impression with each potential employer. Resumes, phone calls, emails, interviews. Every communication you share will leave an impression.
When you’re prepping for an interview, your focus is probably on the tough questions you’ll face, the brilliant elevator pitch you prepared, or the way your portfolio should look. But before you even get the chance to deliver any of these, the interviewers will already be evaluating your potential to fit the job and the company – from the moment you walk through the door, the first impression of you as a competitive candidate is forming gradually.
Arrive on Time (But Not Too Early!)
Being on-time for a job interview is the most basic rule. Ideally, you should arrive about 5-10 minutes before your interview.
Being late for an interview sends the signal that you are unreliable and inattentive to details. But should I arrive early, you asked? Showing up too early makes you seem overly eager and might make the hiring manager feel rushed or uncomfortable having you hanging out outside their office.
Also, if you’re running late, call as soon as possible to let your interviewers know. They’ll appreciate it much more than if you offer up a lame excuse after they waited for 30 minutes. To get the timing right, visit the interview location or check the route and traffic on Google maps in advance to determine the appropriate travel time before the interview day.
Dress For The Part
During the interview, your goal is to dress like you already look the part of a typical worker for the position you interview for. Your appearance probably won’t be the basis of the interviewer’s final decision—but it can certainly play a part in how you’re first perceived.
When you show up in a neatly pressed suit and scuff-less shoes with a portfolio in tow, you’ll come across as professional and well put-together.
For professional positions the ideal may be a tailored outfit; for others a nice button-down shirt and pants. The key is knowing what is appropriate — and making sure whatever you are wearing is clean and pressed. Grooming is also an important factor. Make sure your hair is combed, fingernails clean, and breathe fresh. Also, try to avoid excessive accessories and perfume.
Be Nice to Everyone
The person at the front desk may not be the hiring manager—but that doesn’t mean his or her impression of you doesn’t matter.
In fact, some companies specifically ask their front desk attendants to report back on the demeanor of interviewees who come through the door.
It is important to treat everyone you meet at the company with kindness. You want to make a good first impression in all encounters, with everyone in the company, not just with your future manager or the decision-makers. You should be kind to each and every person including the parking lot attendants, security officers, receptionists, executive assistants, human resources team members, potential co-workers, and hiring managers.
Give A Firm Handshake
When you enter the interview room, the hiring manager or the interviewer will most likely greet you with a welcoming handshake.
A good handshake is firm but not excessively so, it should leave a subtle impression of confidence. A handshake also must be combined with friendly eye contact and a smile.
Shaking hands without looking the other person sends the message that you’re not confident or comfortable with people.
If you have sweaty hands, wipe your hands before the interview, and be sure to do it without the interviewer looking. You might want to rub your hands together as well to warm them up. Make sure you have a firm grasp when you shake hands. Rehearse your handshake beforehand with a friend or colleague, ask for feedback on your current handshake and improve it accordingly.
Good Posture and Body Language
Your posture says a lot about your confidence and interest in the position, at least in the eyes of the interviewer.
You should watch your poster both while waiting in the common area and in the interview room. Sit straight in your chair, no fiddling with the pen or playing with your hair, and lean in slightly toward the interviewer when they speak.
Posture is really important in an interview, and people can instantly associate negative traits with you if you slouch. Stand and sit up straight, and walk confidently into a room with measured steps sets a positive first impression for everyone present.
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